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Irish language

Be it a cat, a dog or a cricket-eating lizard, have you ever owned a pet?

PUISÍNÍ: “It is a very inconvenient habit of kittens (Alice had once made the remark) that whatever you say to them, they always purr.” Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll
Robert McMillen

Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh, welcome back mes amis and mis amigos to the wonderful world of the Bluffer’s Guide to Irish.

Poor Paddy. I’ll never know what happened to him.

Paddy was our madadh - dog when I was about six years old until one day, the news was broken to us that Paddy had gone away to learn how to be a madadh caorach - a sheep dog. The sadness of losing Paddy was tempered somewhat by the idea that at least he was upwardly mobile.

The truth of Paddy’s disappearance is probably somewhat different but we never had a peata - a pet after that.

An raibh peata riamh agat? - Did you ever have a pet?

Bhíodh hamstar againn - we used to have a hamster is a good example and a good use of the verb bhíodh which means used to but not any more. We’ll have a look at that in a further Bluffer.

So, who amongst my loyal readers has or had a pet? They come in all shapes and sizes with their own particular attractions and needs.

Most people go for dogs, some might prefer cat - a cat, iasc orga - goldfish, toirtís - tortoise,  a budragar - budgie or a coinín - a bunny rabbit.

When I was in Spain, evenings were when the whole world was out ag spaisteoireacht - strolling with their canine companions.

Cats are less inclined to enjoy a nice dander and pulled along by a leash but they are nicer to hold on your lap.

Tortoises? What is the point of a tortoise as a pet? No walkies, no purring, they are hardly the loveliest of ainmhithe - animals but still, some people like them.

At least goldfish can find employment in Chinese restaurants and dentists!

Some people prefer younger animals so they would have a coileán - a pup, puisín - a kitten  those scourges of the internet.

Worse still, I have a relative how had a couple of ladhairt - lizards. 

Fascinating animals you will all agree but you have never had to feed the things.

They eat criogair bheo - live crickets which you have to feed them. This is not a job for the faint-hearted.

Also back in the day, the Bluffer’s bother had a luchóg bheag - a mouse the point of which is also unknown.

Who knew mice could smell so bad? And what the hell was Michael Jackson up to with Ben, a luchóg mhór - a rat? 

Still, there is no doubting that the family pet can be cuideachta mhaith - good company for their owners especially for older people or for people living alone.

Some would claim they are better company than humans.

It is even said that pets can improve your immune system. It is claimed that babies who live with a dog tend to experience fewer infections and are generally healthier than those who don’t.

However, apart from poo and food and hair on the carpets dogs can be a bit of a pain when they start making a racket.

So what sounds do pets make in Irish? For dogs it’s ag tafann - barking; cats can be ag meamháil - mewing when they want fed or ag cronán - purring while you stroke their wee chins.

But in the meantime, here’s a big hello to Paddy who at this minute  is hopefully corralling flocks into that big sheep pen up in the sky.


madadh (madoo) - dog

madadh caorach (madoo keerakh) -- a sheep dog

peata (paata) -- a pet

An raibh peata riamh agat? (un roe paata reeoo ugut) - Did you ever have a pet?

Bhíodh hamstar againn (veeoo hamstar ageen) - we used to have a hamster 

cat (caat) -- a cat

iasc orga (eeask orga) -- goldfish

toirtís (torcheess) -- tortoise

budragar (budragar) -- a budgie

coinín (cunyeen) - a bunny rabbit

ag spaisteoireacht (eg spashstoreakht) -- strolling

coileán (cilaan) -- a pup

ainmhithe (anyaveeha) - animals

puisín (pwisheen) -- a kitten  

ladhairt (layartch) -- lizards 

criogair bheo (crigger vyaw) -- live crickets

luchóg bheag (lukhawg veg) - a mouse 

luchóg mhór (lukhawg wore) - a rat

cuideachta mhaith (cudgeakhta why) - good company

ag tafann (eg taafan) - barking

ag meamháil (eg mwao-ail) - mewing

ag cronán (eg cronaan) - purring 

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